*Note* This series comes from an integrative theology paper that I wrote on the intersection of the doctrine of sin and identity development in young adolescent girls. I started this series so long ago, but I realized that there was more to this series that I wanted to share, so here is part 5. You can read part one here; two here; three here; and four here.
Soteriology: Theology of Atonement
Like hamartiology (the study and theology of sin), soteriology is a doctrine that has not yet reached consensus among theologians. Traditional theories include: 1- Christus Victor – Christ’s death pays the ransom due to Satan to free us from the bondage of sin and is victorious; 2- Satisfaction Theory – Christ’s sacrificial death and perfect obedience restores honor to the Father who has been dishonored by human sinfullness; 3- Penal Substitution – Christ’s sacrificial death and perfect obedience are the payment and punishment due to God for our sinfulness; 4- Moral Influence Theory – By his death God in Jesus reveals how deep his love for us is, which moves us to respond in love and obedience to God. Again, the voices of feminist theologians have raised helpful questions about the doctrine of atonement.
Soteriology Women and Girls
Can a male Jesus save Women and Girls?
One useful question feminist theologians have raised is whether a male Jesus can save women and girls? The ecumenical councils in affirming the full humanity of Christ argued that what he did not become, he could not save. Does this principle carry over to gender? Furthermore, can a savior and high priest who is male fully empathize with the trials of women and girls. Some say no, and paint Jesus as a woman, or mother. Others, turn to goddess worship, believing that there is no salvation in a male savior for women.
Stanley Grenz and others have argued that Jesus had to be male, not because of the inherent goodness or badness of either gender, but for two reasons. First, in order to be fully incarnate as a human being, Christ must be gendered. There is not a neuter gender in human kind. Second, if Christ had come as a woman his role as a suffering servant would not have been counter cultural, but simply what was expected of a woman. In order to show the upside down nature of the kingdom of God, and the value of Godly humility, Christ needed to be in a position of relative power in order to show how he gave that power away.